Commissioner joins calls for lower drink driving limit

Merseyside / October 11

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today joined road safety groups and emergency services calling for MPs to reduce the UK’s high drink driving limit.

There is strong public support for lowering the limit, with the British Social Attitude Survey recently finding that three quarters of the public (77%) support lowering the drink driving limit.

The Government state that drink driving ‘remains a priority’, but there has been no reduction in the number of drink driving deaths since 2010.

  • Every year drink driving causes 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties in the UK. This costs £800 million a year.
  • 60% of those who are killed or injured are people other than the driver, such as passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • In England and Wales the drink-drive limit is set at 80mg alcohol/100ml blood and has been since 1965.

England and Wales have one of the highest drink drive limits in the world. Set 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Lowering the drink drive limit to 50mg alcohol/100ml blood would reduce drink driving deaths by at least 10%.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “The number of accidents on our roads as a result of people being over the drink-drive limit remains unacceptably high. It is time the Government listened to the overwhelming professional and public support for lowering the drink-drive limit for the safety of all road users."

The Government of Malta recently announced plans to lower the drink drive limit to 50mg this month in a new National Alcohol Policy to reduce harm.(1)

Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences in the first nine months.(2) Northern Ireland is set to lower its drink driving limit before the end of 2016.

A two-minute animation has been produced by the Institute of Alcohol Studies to support this campaign, outlining the key arguments:

Katherine Brown, Director at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: “Recent decades have seen great improvements in road safety, but progress on drink driving has ground to a halt. With hundreds of lives lost each year, we can’t afford to let England and Wales fall behind our neighbours in road safety standards.

“It’s time the Government looked at the evidence and what other countries are doing to save lives and make roads safer. We need to make drink driving a thing of the past, and to do this we need a lower drink drive limit.”

More information on drink driving, with fully referenced statistics and information on drink driving accidents across England and Wales broken down by region, can be found here –

Drink driving background:

In England and Wales the drink-drive limit is set at 80mg alcohol/100ml blood and has been since 1965. Drivers who drink up to this limit are six times more likely to be killed in an accident as drivers who have not consumed alcohol.

The cost of UK drink driving accidents and casualties is £800 million per year.(3) This does not include the 40% of fatal accidents where people have alcohol within their system, but are below the 80mg limit.(4)

Drink driving leads to 240 deaths and more than 8000 casualties each year.

The Department for Transport calculate that 60% of those who are killed or injured in reported drink driving incidents are people other than the driver, such as passengers, other road users or pedestrians.(5)

Other organisations lending their support to the call for a lower drink drive limit include:

The RAC Foundation

The AA

Institute of Advanced Motoring

Campaign Against Drink Driving

Insure the Box

BREAK: The Road Safety Charity



Medical Council on Alcohol

Spectrum Community Health

Alcohol Health Alliance

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine

British Medical Journal

Royal College of Practitioners

Royal Society of Public Health

College of Paramedics

SCARD: Support & Care After Road Death & Injury

Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner


Fire Brigades Union

Police Federation

Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner



  1. Malta National Government (Oct 2016) Alcohol Policy Document
  2. BBC News (29 May 2015) Drink-drive offences fall after lower limit introduced.
  3. Institute of Alcohol Studies. Drink driving factsheet.
  4. Department for Transport (2016) Proportion of killed drivers/riders resulting from reported accidents by BAC category
  5. Department for Transport (2016) Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (final)